Government plans for patient safety investigations in the new Health and Care Bill will create a ‘wall of secrecy’, campaigners have warned ahead of a debate in Parliament today (14 July).
“The plans include introduction of ‘safe-space investigations’ when patients come to harm which means that information gathered as part of an investigation will not be allowed to be disclosed,” explained Suzanne Trask of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) a national non-profit campaign group which represents injured patients and their families.
“When a patient is injured or killed it is vital that measures are taken to ensure it never happens to another patient. We cannot be certain that lessons are learned if information about what went wrong is kept behind closed doors,” said Ms Trask.
“The Government has previously made a commitment to transparency, and it is evident that it recognises the significance of openness to injured patients and their relatives. But through its laudable aim of finding out what has happened in patient safety incidents using proposed ‘safe-space investigations’, the Government is undermining its own principle of openness.
“The Government created a duty of candour so that healthcare professionals must tell patients or their relatives if something has gone wrong. A prohibition on disclosure of information from an ensuing investigation is in direct contradiction to this duty, which was introduced to create a more open and transparent health service,” Ms Trask went on.
“People who have suffered in a patient safety incident need an explanation of what happened and why it happened. That’s often all a family needs, to help to start to put their lives back together after an avoidable injury or death.
“It’s inevitable that families will have the feeling that something is being hidden. This will prevent patients and their families from being able to move on” she said.
Notes to editors:
• The Health and Care Bill is to apply in England only.
• The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) is a not-for-profit campaign group which has been committed to injured people for more than 30 years. Our vision is of a society without needless injury but, when people are injured, they receive the justice they need to rebuild their lives. We have more than 3,200 members who are committed to supporting the association’s aims, and all are signed up to APIL’s code of conduct and consumer charter. Membership comprises mostly solicitors, along with barristers, legal executives, paralegals and some academics.
• For more information contact APIL's communications manager Jane Hartwell on t: 0115 943 5416, e: firstname.lastname@example.org or APIL’s press and communications officer Iman Anthony on t: 07808 768623 e: email@example.com.
• Follow @APIL on Twitter: www.twitter.com/APIL.